Updated: May 29, 2022
As businesses begin to make the move to go online, or scale their online business, it becomes more and more apparent how good content is so vital.
As media rich content surrounds us, potential customers or clients tend to bypass lack lustre sites, poor design layouts, flat and uninspiring photography, instead gravitating towards something that inspires and connects with them.
Is it just for online stores?
This is one of the biggest misconceptions around photography for your business. We have all started to understand the concept of product photography. Buy an item from any online store, and you expect to see a picture of it before you buy.
But how often are you looking at other business:
services, businesses, accountants,
lawyers, builders or trades, photographers, artists, website developers, recipe blogs, or lifestyle coaches.
Rather than think about your own business - think about how you search and look for other businesses.
What is it that makes you pick one business over another to contact? How do you decide on their level of professionalism? Are you looking for whether you connect with them? Do you understand and appreciate their values?
Yes, we look at their experience, testimonials, and reviews, but first - you have a 2-10 second look at their site and see whether it 'fits'...before you start reading.
And generally that is made up from two factors.
- Website design/appearance
- And functionality/usability
Website design is where photography (and sometimes videography) comes into it. And you have a few ways to do it.
Here are your options:
Take your own photos
Hire a photographer to get personalised content
Use stock photography (Free or paid content)
Look at some of your competitors websites. Which ones do you like and why? Do they have photos on their site?
Are they personalised ones from their own jobs/staff, or are they generic 'trade' photos? Which ones do you prefer?
1. Take your own photos
There are numerous tutorials around on how to take your own photos (I may even write a post about it), but there are a few basics
Composition - Keep it simple, and compose it well. Tips: Use the rule of thirds to balance the composure Sometimes centre focused can work, but never centre a horizon line. Use a shallow depth of field to focus on the important aspect, and draw your eyes there.
Lighting - Make sure you use a good source of light, and expose for what you are photographing. If photographing inside, it is a lot simpler and more natural to utilise light from the window rather than artificial lighting sources. As a rule of thumb, if photographing people, have their faces turned towards the light source, rather than away from it.
Equipment - As a photographer, I am always a fan of using the right gear for the job, so I will probably never fully endorse some stuff, however photography can be undertaken using higher spec phones. I would advise keeping it more for use in social media or smaller images on websites rather than advertising material however, and still follow the rules above (Using pro features also helps).
2. Hire a photographer
Depending on your business, having personalised content that is relevant to you, shows your brand, and is professional can be the driver that brings in sales or customers to your business. This is all about you - showing you, your story, and your business. You see a lot of professional headshots, corporate style imaging, and stock photography on websites, but sometimes the ones that you connect with, are real people, real businesses, and real owners portraying their story! Often budget can seem like a barrier to hiring a photographer - and doing it yourself, using free images found in your own website builder, or buying a few images off a stock library can seem like the best option. However, as is often the case, sometimes these images may not portray your
business. Do you operate a New Zealand grass fed Sheep and Beef Farm, but can only find photos of an American feed lot, or do you just want good landscape content from your own country rather than someone elses?
I will get into some good options in the next paragraph if you do want to go down a stock photography route, but if you are looking for content and lifestyle photography for your own business, then hiring a local photographer can actually be a really affordable option.
Cost: Photographers may charge on a per image basis, per hour/day basis, or quote for a job. And the prices can vary hugely. Are you just wanting the photos for your own website and social media? Probably a lesser cost. Wanting to advertise nationally, internationally, or in a large capacity, then the cost may increase. This is where small businesses can be deterred, as they don't even want to ask - thinking the cost may be astronomical. But how images are licenced will influence the cost. If you are only using them locally, then purchase a personal/local licence, and if you want to scale up, then by all means, go back to the photographer and pay more if/when you have more market. Photographers, like any other business, are still a business - they have overheads, equipment, time invested, running costs - but you will generally find a photographer who will be able to discuss the how and why of what they price. But as to pricing, you can pay anywhere from $350-$3000 for local content, and potentially more for complex or unique content, or large projects. It is worth discussing costs up front with the photographer and they will be able to provide you with a quote depending on the brief, audience, and licensing agreement. Sometimes you will get what you pay for, but there are a number of professional photographers (such as family photographers), who may have just as much expertise and equipment as a commercial photographer, but may be priced differently. It is always worth asking.
Licensing: Be upfront with what you are wanting photos for. Advertising? Or editorial content? Personal usage or commercial? Local or international?
Under most copyright laws, the copyright remains with the photographer, and you are granted a licence for a particular usage. Discuss the terms and conditions and usage rights with your photographer.
3. Use stock photos
This is a fantastic option, especially when you may be after really high quality imagery, or only a few pictures on your website. You can search what you are after (office scenes, landscape, construction, medical, families etc) and utilise them generally royalty free.
Most website builders have a library of free images that you can use generically, so this is a great place to start.
If you are after something for an advertising campaign however, or your website builder just doesn't have the right imagery (wrong demographic/country/scenes), then paying for stock imagery is another great option.
Where do I find them?
If you are based in New Zealand, then a great place to start is Truestock. Truestock is a New Zealand company, with New Zealand photographers, who are out photographing - you guessed it - Authentic New Zealand life. With a broad spectrum of real people, industry, lifestyle, diversity and landscape shots, this is a great place to start. They have a range of prices designed to suit various platforms (think website/social media, or big billboard), and the awesome thing about this, is Truestock is run as a cooperative, so you will be supporting New Zealand photographers, and not sending money offshore.
Another couple options are istock, getty images, and shutterstock. All have different pricing structures, costs and usage rights.
So what do you say? DIYing your website, and running your own marketing? There are so many options, and if you are using a website developer, they may be all over this. And if you are looking for a New Zealand based photographer to take some photography for you business - then feel free to look through my WEBSITE and get in touch.